According to China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), they have spent an estimated $1.6 million to-date on the North Abaco port facility and they expect Bahamians to make up more than 70 percent of the workforce during peak activity.
While speaking at the Abaco Business Outlook Felix Chang, CHEC (Bahamas) country manager, said the company intended to cap its Chinese labour component at 12, adding that the company broke ground on the $39 million port development back in June, and was looking to grow its team and move “full steam ahead” with construction.
Mr. Chang said CHEC has received nearly 200 applications for the various positions available on the project.
“Starting as early as October 1, significant site clearance will begin. This means that over the next several weeks, as we finalize our requirements, we will be conducting final interviews with those candidates who have been shortlisted for positions,” he said.
“However, just to start the project, we are going to need a dozen operators working full time with the team we already have on-site.”
Mr. Chang said the company’s work schedule will require them to hire additional workers in the 2015 first quarter, with more than one dozen added at the end of the second quarter.
“For the Chinese labour component, we are going to cap it to around one dozen workers,” he said. “So by the end of September, the Chinese labor versus the local labor component will be 1:1.
“At the end of December it will be 1:2; by the end of March the ratio will be 1:3, and going into summer of 2015 the staff ratio will be one Chinese worker for every four Bahamian employees.”
Mr. Chang added: “Over the course of the next two years, we will also have great need for construction equipment rentals. From this point on, we will not be bringing in any new heavy construction equipment from anywhere else in the world. We are committed to using the local resources available to complete this project on time and on budget.”
He said that CHEC will “sub-contract the asphalt paving, the landscaping as well as the interior finishing to local companies. And this won’t be all.”
Mr. Chang said that they can “assure you that the necessary environment impact assessment and environmental management plan will be followed as we begin work on the port.” He said they would also hold regular town meetings to keep the community updated on the project.
“CHEC is dedicated to proper corporate social responsibility and we have a list of community related initiatives we hope to execute over the next two years in coopers town,” he said.
The 45.4-acre port facility is being jointly funded by the Bahamian and Chinese governments. The port is to be an inland port with a 20-slip marina to handle international and domestic operations.
It will have bulk material storage, roll-on/roll-off ramps, a warehouse facility, a landing craft warehouse and an administration building containing government offices.